Published Oct 11, 2019James Blake has opened up about his struggles with mental health and depression in a newly penned essay, all the while calling out "cis-gendered white male egomaniacs" who continue to "bleed their shit on to everybody."
His essay is called "It's Not OK to Feel Blue (And Other Lies)" and appears in a new collection of writing on mental health curated by Scarlett Curtis. Blake's piece was published online this week by Penguin, with the artist saying he was hesitant to speak out about his own struggles with mental health due to the privilege that comes with being a straight white man.
In the essay, Blake explains how he first battled his depression and anxiety after he was bullied as a teenager.
"I put girls on pedestals and worshipped them, but only ever remained their friend," he writes. "I fell in love many times and it was never reciprocated. I had no automatic right to them of course, but they kept me around for years and allowed me to be bullied and humiliated by their friends, accidentally betraying me out of awkwardness.
"I resented their understandable, youthful inability to know what to do with a sensitive boy who made them laugh and feel good about themselves, but whose body they did not want."
He also dives into how he battled with gender stereotypes.
"These feelings of betrayal, persecution and rejection I kept to myself. In the crude gender stereotypes I was aware of at that age, I thought I had the sensitivity of a female but in a male's body. I joked my way through it and made sure nobody ever saw me cry. I remained a virgin until the age of twenty-two, because I was awkward and unable to be natural around women."
He later explains how his rise to fame only intensified his battle with mental health. Blake contrasts himself with his artistic "alias," describing this as "the man-child who for many years was hurting, spiralling, never leaving the house, wasting away in an ego prison, refusing to collaborate, allowing himself to be bled financially and taken advantage of by his friends and their extended family, playing video games and smoking weed fourteen hours a day and not taking any care of himself what-so-ever until he was in a black depression, experiencing daily panic attacks, hallucinations and an existential crisis. I was asking questions like 'What is the point of me?' and saying I didn't want to live."
He goes on to write how he wanted "to show how a privileged, relatively rich-and-famous-enough-for-zero-pity white man could become depressed, against all societal expectations and allowances."
At the same time, he concedes to "having the uncomfortable but rational thought that my struggle was actually comparatively tiny, and that any person of colour or member of the LGBTQ+ community could feasibly have been through exactly the same thing and then much, much more on top of that." In the end, he says, "my girlfriend verbally slapped some sense into me, saying it does not help anybody, least of all oneself, to compare pain."
You can read the full piece here via Penguin.